It seemed a foregone conclusion at the beginning of the year that Prohibition would come to an end before 1934. However, the process would require residents in 36 of the 48 states to vote for repeal of the 18th amendment.

In the meantime, states were free to legalize beer — the 3.2 percent variety. That is, beer with that percentage of alcoholic content. A stronger variety — between 4.6 and 7 percent — would have to wait until the repeal of Prohibition was official.

While many beer drinkers scoffed at 3.2 beer, they were anxious to legally drink anything that contained some alcoholic kick. That's why there was a rush to start selling beer as soon as possible, which turned out to be early April.

This was not accomplished without a lot of hand-wringing by politicians, many of whom engaged in blatant snobism.

For example, many regarded saloons as one of the biggest problems leading up to Prohibition. Mostly saloons frequented by factory workers and other laborers who'd drink away their paychecks before going home to their families.

And so some politicians, with New York Governor Herbert Lehman in the lead, tried to come up with a way to bring back beer while preventing the return of neighborhood saloons. He wanted beer served at restaurants only, but then relented a bit and promoted the idea of beer gardens.

Admittedly, "beer garden" sounded nicer than "saloon" ... except to anyone who associated the former with Germany. What was going on in the beer gardens of Nazi Germany was a lot more frightening than anything that had ever gone on in an American saloon. But, frankly, in the early part of 1933 most beer drinkers weren't thinking about Hitler. They simply wanted to drink without looking over their shoulders for a raid by Prohibition agents.

Nationally syndicated columnist Arthur Brisbane had this to say about the situation as April approached:

Syracuse Journal, March 25
Today / by Arthur Brisbane
What is the whole duty of man in America?

According to the Bible, it is “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

But in civilized 1933, you might believe that the most important part of the whole duty of man is to drink beer.

Solemnly, newspapers discuss the day on which beer drinking may begin. Fear is expressed that in New York a misunderstanding of the Legislature may delay beer’s arrival by a whole week. What a calamity!

That men up to their necks in depression, with the world topsy-turvy, should concentrate heart, mind and soul on a glass of beer, shows how much they amount to.

Next Thursday at midnight will come a new American celebration to be called “Brew Year’s Eve.” Beer becomes legal at one minute after midnight on April 7, as the new year begins one minute after midnight on December 31. Hotels and restaurants will be ready for “Brew Year’s Eve” celebration, beer steins will be on the table, and joy presumably unconfined.

Governor Lehman of New York has a “beer plan.” You buy the beer, take it away, or drink it on the premises. You may not put your left foot on a brass rail, your right elbow on a polished bar and drink thus. That’s illegal. You may drink in a beer garden, if you can find one. Beer gardens take much room and in winter they must have roofs.

Brewers may have no interest, direct or indirect, in any retail beer-selling emporium. That may be a mistake, for brewers having real interest in beer distribution might manage drinking places better than some others.


Syracuse American, March 26
ALBANY (INS) — Under the terms of the state liquor bill as drafted by Governor Lehman, a beer garden is defined in the following terms:

“A beer garden shall include a yard or open space used as a restaurant or adjoining a restaurant and owned and operated by the same persons as such restaurants.”

This precludes, it is assumed, that beer gardens can be operated other than in the summer time when patrons will feel comfortable while sitting in the open air.

Anyone who thinks broadcasting's trivialization of news is a recent development might consider this "special" program which was beamed around the world when the Important Night arrived.

Syracuse Journal, April 6
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — A gurgle will be broadcast from coast to coast and around the world tonight.

It will be the gurgle of that newly legalized beverage — 3.2 per cent beer.

Listeners also will hear the operation of the various machines in one of Milwaukee’s famous breweries, the filling of the bottles and the barrels, the loading of the trucks, their departure en route to the ultimate destination, then the tapping of the kegs in a brand new tavern.

For nearly two hours, beginning at 11:30 p.m. tonight, station WISN, on a national hookup of the Columbia Broadcasting Company, will broadcast a program which will be sent to Europe and other foreign countries by short wave.

Milwaukee’s widely popular American Legion band and the Liederkranz Singing Society will appear on the program and short talks will be given by Mayor Daniel Hoan and leaders in the brewing industry.

And even though hard-core drinkers thought the temporary product was weak, there was no doubt beer was back.

Syracuse American April 9
Universal Press
American beer drinkers consumed between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 barrels of beer during the first 24 hours of legal drinking, it was estimated based on reports from all over the country. Breweries are having a difficult time keeping up with the demand.

The last line of the above item is significant because, for awhile, several beer bootleggers continued to prosper because legitimate breweries took awhile to meet the demand.

Meanwhile, all the talk about beer gardens gave a California movie director an idea what to do with an investment he had made in something that was a hot trend a few years earlier.

Syracuse Journal, April 10
GLENDALE, California (Universal) — Glendale’s last miniature golf links will blossom into a beer garden. A course owned by James Horne, film director, which survived the depression, will have tables installed under its Dutch windmills, Japanese pagodas and African huts, it was learned today.

Businesses soon discovered, however, that man does not live by beer alone:

Syracuse Journal, November 17
— Pretzels increased in demand so greatly since the return of beer that a new $12,500 pretzel plant is to be built here. The new plant, a three-story structure, will be built by a company which already employs 200 persons and is turning out 40,000 pounds of pretzels daily.